Working with an early-stage startup, I conducted exploratory research with multiple user groups, created an informed product roadmap and helped the team define key uses cases in the virtual reality industry.
The team of engineering and business leads had developed a product with a loose idea of who might use it and a lot of questions about how it could be useful to those users. I came in to explore the wants, needs, behaviors, and motivations of potential users, the wellness VR industry, and to guide product strategy.
I started conducting 1:1 interviews with stakeholders and then with target users for a more thorough understanding of the product team’s concerns and related user workflows. After synthesizing and sharing those insights, I facilitated a customer journey map workshop with the team and was able to identify opportunities to rock the user experience. Then, I built comparative and competitive analyses to identify current gaps in the industry. Finally, I combined user and market research with business objectives to create a product roadmap.
To better understand users’ goals and needs, I interviewed six full-time acupuncturists in the Bay Area about their practice.
- Practitioners feel frustrated with patients who do not follow through with lifestyle suggestions, such as meditation.
- Practitioners struggle to educate patients about the healing process during brief in-person sessions.
- Most manage a solo practice, build their own client list, and create their own solutions, such as herbal remedies.
“A lot of people feel like it’s a magical type of practice. Patients seem to think I have a sort of sixth sense about their condition. They wouldn’t know that they were Meridians or points. I don’t think they knew what to ask. There just isn’t a lot of time for the acupuncturists to educate patients about their process.”
Based on my understanding of product capabilities and acupuncturists’ needs, I realized that our wellness VR software would likely serve as a tool for practitioners to use within their practice. I decided to also interview a small sampling of acupuncturist patients to understand their goals and needs. After five interviews I was able to refine valuable insights.
- Most felt deeper benefits were unclear, though all reported feeling more relaxed after sessions.
- Patients have a wide mix of goals for visiting an acupuncturist.
- Most felt unsure if they should continue acupuncture since their insurance does not cover alternative healing.
“I love the therapy and counseling that goes into acupuncture treatments. The acupuncturist treated me like I was a whole system.”
“Acupuncture didn’t really yield. They never explained the mechanism. They could explain more of how it works. It’s not clear what is going on.”
“I always felt amazing after treatments. But insurance stopped paying for it, and I wasn’t seeing enough of a benefit.”
To identify gaps and opportunities with similar wellness VR tools and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) educational resources, I conducted comparative and competitive analyses. I evaluated six VR tools and four TCM tools.
What I learned
- Patients currently have limited credible resources for TCM, and no educational TCM software exists.
- Most educational resources include the “Five Element Theory.”
- Meridian breakdowns often include emotional references.
- Being an unfamiliar product in the market space may be a hurdle in the customer journey.
- We should consider incorporating the Five Element Theory in the app to meet education standards.
- Anatomical visuals and meridian descriptions should be a starting point for educational information architecture.
This customer journey map outlines the practitioner experience after purchasing a Chi VR subscription for her patients. I used insights from practitioner interviews to inform the map and takeaways from the comparative and competitive analyses. As a result of regularly socializing research insights with the team, I was able to facilitate a mapping workshop and identify opportunities to rock the UX.
The Product Roadmap
Based on my user and market research findings, I created an informed product roadmap. The roadmap would guide development decisions and increase the team’s ability to meet user needs. Keeping the team involved and engaged in the research along the way made this deliverable especially impactful.
“I highly recommend Allison for any company lucky enough to work with her. Strong work ethic? Yes. Smarts? Yes. Overall ability to distill complex information into actionable insights? Yes! Easy to work with? Absolutely. Allison’s consistently thorough user and market research kept our team focused and productive. Looking forward to working with her more in the future!”